Just

justposter12 to 17 August,
16:50
Paradise Green at St. Augustine’s on George IV Bridge

Just starts with a young woman, Victoria, standing at a bus stop. A corpse lies near her with an umbrella stuck in its back. From there the audience witnesses a tale of Kafa-esque injustice unfold. There are many surreal features including a blindfolded Judge, townspeople who speak in (bad) synchronised verse and a forgetful policeman who confuses his words.

This production is performed by Sixth form actors from Oundle School (near Peterborough). These are Robbie Younger (Grafton) playing Albert, Victoria shared by Lily Spicer (Sanderson) and Livvy Sellers (Laxton). They are supported by Emma Kelmsley-Pein (Sanderson), Georgie Anstey (Laxton), Alex Wallitt (Kirkeby), Monica Dahiya (Laxton) and Annabelle Sherwood (Wyatt), with Polly Halstead (Sanderson) as stage manager. All of them did a great job in what can be a difficult play to perform.

At the heart of the play is the issue of Justice, or perhaps injustice. The writer spoke of the blind Judge Mrs Wright:

“I had no specific person in line for Mrs. Wright. In fact the character started off as a man then she became female and you can read her as anything you like. Justice is blind but hers is a different kind of blindness. It is a chosen kind of blindness. She almost always decides which direction to look.”
http://www.jimmulligan.co.uk/interview/ali-smith-just

Themes of class and the treatment of outsiders are hinted at but never fully developed. This is a deliberate tactic to provoke thought as the audience is left to fill in the gaps in the narrative. Sometimes just a word or phrase is used (like a reference to shopping at Waitrose or the statement that someone doesn’t come from “round here”). There is a clear theme of suspicion of the ‘other’.

There are clear Brechtian influences at work in the play too. The characters indicate that they are aware that it is a play and refer to ‘our play, our unending poem, our theatre of here’. The actors sometimes peer out at the audience. The writer makes it clear that they could walk out if they really wanted but they seem trapped in a cycle. In that sense the play is pessimistic. If they realise they have a choice they lack the will or courage to exercise it. This then is a play with a message, very subtly put and ably delivered by a talented young cast.

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